What is more important for a product? Fun or Utility?

Last week when Scoble made the argument that the Goby and The Dealmap are more important than Foursquare, Gowalla and others, the reaction was mixed. In his post, Scoble said:

“why did I say these are more important than Foursquare or Gowalla or the other companies in this space? Well, normal people are still resisting using these location services. But these [The Dealmap & Goby] offer REAL utility and REAL value…”

Nearly everyone missed the point; some bloggers even posted rebuttal like the one here, in which they said:

“The lack of gaming function in Goby or TheDealMap does not render them useless nor uncool nor nonfunctional, just not very fun. We all like useful tools but we love to play games and have fun! And that’s why Goby and TheDealMap are not nearly as important as Foursqaure and Gowalla”

See, its not really about which product is “more important” – the way I read it (and of course also based on my full 3 hr discussion with Scoble) is that Fun and Utility are the most important facets of any product. The role that’s played by a product in ones daily life is decided by how Fun AND Useful that product is.

In other words, Game mechanics promote frequency of actions and Utility aspects add value to those actions – they are simply the Yin and Yang of a successful product. The products that mix these two aspects in just right proportions cross the chasm to have a lasting effect.

And doing that is not that easy, its the perfect combination of art & science that’s hard to achieve!

Photo Credit: Exhibit-M